People grow and change over time, you know. Look at me: I used to wear My Chemical Romance shirts. Those were not happy times, believe you me. Likewise, developers can grow over time as well. Take the French company Spiders, for instance, creators of such RPG “epics” as Mars: War Logs and Bound by Flame. The term “eurojank” was practically coined for their games, but with their newest effort Greedfall, we might have to start looking for a new title. “Euro…less-jank?” Who knows?
In what amounts to a fictional take on the Age of Exploration, you take the role of De Sardet, a noble from the city of Serene. De Sardet is tasked with heading an expedition to Teer Fradee, a new and unexplored island with its own native population and plenty of danger. There’s more going on than just exploration, of course, as De Sardet gets sucked into the usual political and social machinations that typify this sort of game. Fans of the Dragon Age series are going to have a field day learning about the different players and digging into Greedfall’s intrigue.
Greedfall benefits from Spiders’ development experience by feeling surprisingly competent compared to many of their previous games. Don’t expect anything mindblowing, of course. One imagines the budget here was somewhere between “shoestring” and “a combined pool of the devs’ lunch money over the course of several weeks.” Still, from both a presentation and gameplay perspective, Greedfall feels just about right.
Character development is present but somewhat limited. You’ve got a fairly wide selection of gear, of course, and using these is based on skill and attribute distribution. Essentially, there are melee, guns and magic options and you can combine them to your liking, with most gear requiring certain levels of each. You can also choose from several “social” skills such as lockpicking and charisma. Take lockpicking. Trust me.
Your standby options are going to be melee and magic, with guns acting as more of a secondary addition to either of those. I found myself particularly fond of firearms, since while you do need to purchase or find ammo between battles, guns do an absolutely absurd amount of damage and can help speed fights along. When you aren’t blasting away, Greedfall ends up playing something like a store-brand Souls game with a focus on parries, dodging and counters. That’s still leaps and bounds above what we’re used to from Spiders, so there’s few complaints to be had.
The Dragon Age comparison continues to exploration and interacting with the game’s various factions. You can choose characters to align yourself with and the experience does tend to change somewhat based on which direction you go. Greedfall’s happy to let you do what you want without preaching at you, which is a surprisingly refreshing take in 2019.
As usual, if you’ve got a decent PC Greedfall’s going to be a happy camper. I’ve heard reports of performance issues for those with more mid-range rigs, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to try this one out. Generally speaking, this game looks damn good for a double-A game, with my only issues being with the somewhat goofy combat animations; magic is cool and all, but watching De Sardet gyrate around during their normal attacks takes some of the punch out of it.
All in all, Greedfall proves that over the years Spiders has really managed to get their act together. Once upon a time these were the kind of RPGs that you’d expect to consist of missed opportunities and not much more, but Greedfall stands on its own. Check it out. When you do, maybe try dancing around like De Sardet does with those magic rings. It’ll be a hit.